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In this issue:
From the Director—Challenging Times: Questions and Answers
KIPAC Researcher Awarded Rossi Prize
Word of the Week: Micrometer LCLS Construction Update

SLAC Today

Friday - January 25, 2008

From the Director—Challenging Times: Questions and Answers

(Photo - Persis Drell)

These are challenging days for the laboratory. It has been two weeks since I announced a major layoff, and it will be early February before individual staff are notified whether or not they will be laid off. This period of waiting is difficult for all of us. The senior management is working hard to get through this process as quickly as we can, and to do the best job possible of positioning the laboratory for its future.

Since the All Hands announcement, I have been meeting with work groups at the lab, department by department. I’ve now had a dozen such meetings, involving over 2/3 of the laboratory staff. The purpose of these meetings, above all, is to answer your questions. These meetings have been instructive and informative, and the questions posed to me have been excellent. While the tension in the room is always evident, I admire the respectful way that staff are facing the challenges before us. I cannot always give the answers everyone would like to hear, but I can ensure that, through these meetings, I can provide the most accurate information available. Read more...

KIPAC Researcher Awarded Rossi Prize

(Photo - Steve Allen)
Stanford researcher Steve Allen will receive the Rossi Prize. (Click on image for larger version.)

KIPAC researcher Steve Allen has been awarded a share of the 2008 Rossi Prize by the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Named for the grandfather of high-energy astrophysics, the Rossi Prize is awarded annually for research that represents a major contribution to the field. Among other feats, the award's namesake, Bruno Rossi, pioneered efforts in X-ray astronomy.

"It's an honor to receive such an award," Allen said, "and great that the work of our team has been acknowledged in this way."

X-ray observations plays a key role in Allen's research. The award recognizes the significance of his work, and that of co-recipients J. Patrick Henry of the University of Hawaii, and Maxim Markevitch and Alexey Vikhlinin of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in using galaxy clusters as cosmological probes.

"X-ray observations provide one of our most powerful ways of revealing the large-scale properties of the universe," Allen said. "We've learned a great deal in the past 10 to 15 years."

Most of the baryons in the Universe are in the form of diffuse gas, which makes viewing difficult. However, in galaxy clusters—the most massive objects in the Universe—enormous gravitational forces heat the gas to temperatures of tens of millions of degrees, causing it to shine brightly in the form of X-rays, allowing it to be observed using specialized detectors.

Word of the Week:

A micrometer (symbol µm), is a unit if measure equal to one millionth of a meter, although the unofficial term "micron" is most commonly used to avoid confusion with the measuring device of the same name. Wavelengths of infrared light—at the low end of the spectrum just before visible light—are measured in microns. A human hair is about 100 microns in diameter.

LCLS Construction Update

(Photo - Undulator Hall)
Inside the nearly completed Undulator Hall. (Click image for larger version.)

Tunneling video update: Watch the full version of the January 14th tunneling event here. (RealPlayer required.)

The tunneling breakthrough into the Far Experimental Hall on January 14th was a definite highlight of the Linac Coherent Light Source Construction (LCLS) project, and there's more to come over the next few months.

Progress has rocketed along since the first tunneling breakthrough last June, where crews are now putting the finishing touches to the Undulator Hall in advance of the start of hardware installation in a few weeks.

One of the most active above-ground priorities at present is the completion of the Central Utilities Plant, which will house a boiler and electrical switching stations that will serve power and utilities to the entire LCLS. Crews are now working inside, and the first pieces of associated hardware are beginning to arrive on site.

Crews in the Near Experimental Hall (NEH) are installing drywall and have begun painting. The connecting passageways from the NEH—the Front End Enclosure to the Beam Dump and Undulator Hall—are receiving final coats of sealant to their exteriors. Over the next couple of weeks, the site will be covered back over with soil and the final grade will be established.


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